The Impressions


Composed by Curtis Mayfield / Johnny Pate

Song Review by

The roots of "Amen" lie in a Negro spiritual, but the song first gained notice when Sidney Poitier sang it in the motion picture drama Lilies of the Field, which opened in the fall of 1963. A low-budget film about a handyman who builds a chapel for a group of nuns, Lilies of the Field was nominated for five Academy Awards, including best picture, winning Poitier the best actor award. With that, the movie became a substantial hit, and a soundtrack album charted in the spring of 1964. "Amen," its title repeated throughout the course of a stirring melody, with brief verses relating to incidents in the Bible, was credited to Jerry Goldsmith, the composer of the film score. But when the Impressions recorded it for their Keep on Pushing LP, released in July, with an arrangement that began with a suggestion of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "Amen" was credited to John W. Pate Sr. and Curtis Mayfield of the group. The Impressions' recording was released as a single in October 1964, probably to take advantage of its references to the Nativity for Christmas. It topped the R&B charts and reached the Top Ten of the pop charts. Thereafter, the song was recorded frequently by religious and pop artists. A posthumously released version by Otis Redding (which credited Redding as songwriter) placed in the pop Top 40 and the R&B Top 20 in 1968.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Keep on Pushing 1964 Geffen / Universal 3:32
No Image 197? 3:22
Greatest Hits [1982] 1982 MCA 3:26
No Image 1986
Various Artists
Classic Rock: 1964 - The Beat Goes On 1988
Various Artists
The Definitive Impressions 1989 Ace
Christmas Hits [Universal] 1990
Various Artists
MCA 3:25
No Image 1992
Various Artists
Richmond 3:16
Preppy Deluxe [1991 26 Tracks] 1994
Various Artists
Ripete Records 2:49
Vintage Collectibles, Vol.  6: 1958-1967 1995
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 3:27
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Universal Special Products
It's All Right 1995 Collectables 3:29
Tell It Like It Is [K-Tel] 1996
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:11
Keep on Pushing/People Get Ready 1996 Ace
Four by Four, Vol. 5 1996
Various Artists
Stardust Records 3:28
The Ultimate Christmas Album, Vol. 3 1996
Various Artists
Collectables 3:29
The Very Best of the Impressions [Rhino] 1997 Rhino 3:31
Amen Hymns & Spirituals 1997
Various Artists
GNP/Crescendo 3:27
20th Century Rocks, Vol. 10: '60s Soul - Tell It Like It Is 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:16
Classic Gold [Compose] 1997
Various Artists
Compose Records 3:11
God, Love and Rock & Roll 1998
Various Artists
Var├Ęse Vintage / Varese 3:30
The Greatest Hits [1998] 1998 GEFFEN 3:25
Tribute to Gospel 1999
Various Artists
Peacock Gospel Classics / MCA 3:29
4 Legendary Soul Groups 1999
Various Artists
Double Play Records 3:15
Soul Collection: Great 2000
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:11
A Tribute to the Memory of Curtis Mayfield [Edeltone] 2000 Edel America Records / Edeltone 3:33
Say Amen 2001
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 3:26
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: Jingle Bell Rock [1] 2001
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:30
Ultimate Collection 2001 Hip-O 3:27
Songs of Praise [K-Tel] 2002
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:15
Oh Happy Day: Gospel Greats 2002
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:15
WQED Pittsburgh Presents Soul Anthology 2002
Various Artists
Rhino 3:30
Tribute to Curtis Mayfield [Delta] 2004 Laserlight 3:33
Doo Wop Era 2005
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:13
Merry Christmas 2005
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:31
Ultimate Christmas Soul 2007
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:29
No Image 2007
Various Artists
Goldenlane 3:15
People Get Ready: 21 Greatest Hits 2008 Remember Records 3:14
No Image 2008 Fourmatt 3:33
The  Complete A- and B-Sides 1961-1968 2009 Island 3:28
I'm Coming Home for Christmas 2009 MRI Associated Labels / Megaforce 3:23
The Very Best of Gospel [Wagram] 2011
Various Artists
Wagram Records
Salute to Curtis Mayfield Cool Pepper Disc 3:33
blue highlight denotes editor's pick